Nearly half of business leaders 'concerned about professionalism of charity heads'

Philanthropic Journeys, a study by Beth Breeze of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, says this is a factor in limiting volunteering and donations

Beth Breeze
Beth Breeze

More than four out of 10 business leaders have said that concerns about the professionalism of people running charities were a factor in limiting their donations, new research has found.

Philanthropic Journeys, commissioned by the capacity-building charity Pilotlight and written by Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, is based on a survey of 227 business leaders and philanthropists in England and Scotland, carried out last year.

It says that charities need to address worries that people’s time and money will be wasted by well-intentioned but poor performing leaders.

Forty-four per cent of those surveyed said that concerns about professionalism were a factor in limiting their volunteering activity and their donations.

Eighty-one per cent of respondents said that a lack of time at work was a barrier to supporting voluntary sector organisations.

Two-thirds of respondents said they lacked confidence that skills and experience gained in the private sector would be useful to charities, and the same proportion said they lacked awareness of appropriate opportunities to get involved with charities.

The report says charities must provide greater support to individuals on their "philanthropic journey" in order to help create a culture of long-term giving and volunteering.

It says that business people who had carried out "structured skills volunteering" through organisations such as Pilotlight, which matches private sector professionals with charities and social enterprises to help them develop business plans, dramatically improved their attitudes to charities.

Those that had a good initial experience of working with a charity were far more likely to volunteer with charities again and make substantial donations, the report says.

Breeze said: "Modern life is complicated – people are busy getting educated, buying houses, having families, starting businesses and dealing with innumerable other demands on their time and money.

"Giving people the right support at crucial junctures, when they are ready to engage with good causes, can make all the difference. Many non-donors are not ungenerous but, rather, they lack confidence – either in their own ability to make a contribution or in the ability of the charity to use that contribution wisely. We need to address that."

The bulk of respondents to the survey, who had all carried out long-term structured volunteering opportunities such as those operated by Pilotlight, were high-earning males aged between 45 and 54.

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